Friday, May 01, 2015

How To Find Peace While Chasing
Your Dreams
By Pete Wilson

OVERVIEW: Pete Wilson provides a plan for living that will lead you to a place of peace that you've only dreamed about and a life filled with meaning, significance, and satisfaction. This is a book to be used as a field guide to ruthlessly trusting God's plan—even in the face of difficulty and uncertainty. Each chapter discusses some aspect of embracing God's call for your life, based on Scripture and the authors observations and experiences.

AUTHOR: Pete Wilson is the founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, a committed church community that he and his wife, Brandi, planted in 2002. Cross Point has grown to reach more than six thousand people each week-end through its seven campuses located around the Nashville area, and online. As one of the fastest-growing churches in America, Pete's ministry—an outreach focused on helping people become devoted to Christ, irrevocably committed to each other, and relentlessly dedicated to reaching those outside of God's family with the gospel—has made him a frequent speaker at national and international church conferences. Pete gained national attention in 2010 when Thomas Nelson published his best-selling book, Plan B, a title that has been printed in five languages and launched Putting Plan B into Action, a 6-week DVD curriculum that serves as a study companion to the book, Empty Promises, Pete's second book, focuses on the human desire to find purpose and hope in things that are not God. Pete earned his bachelor's degree in communications from Kentucky Western University and attended seminary at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

MY REVIEW: Dave Ramsey, New York Times bestselling author wrote, "If you've ever been scared and confused about what to do next, this is the book for you." I agree! I also agree with Christine Caine, founder of The A21 Campaign who said, "What Keeps You Up at Night? will help you not only discover the adventure you were born to live, but to actually live it."

Pete Wilson is an excellent communicator. In this splendid book he uses many illustrations to put his point across and tells wonderful stories that inspire. This is a book filled with wisdom. But it is mostly just good, common sense. You won't have to read and re-read to get the meaning and you won't have look up words in a dictionary. You will find yourself underling and marking passages that you want to remember and refer to again quickly. This is a book you will want to pass on to someone else you care about and you may buy extra copies to give away.

(I received this book from Book Sneeze a division of Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Libertarians, Conservatives, And The Fight
For The Right's Future
By Charles C. W. Cooke

OVERVIEW: There is an underserved group of conservatives for whom fiscal responsibility, constitutional obedience, and controlled government spending remain crucial tenets, but issues such as gay marriage and drug control are approached with a libertarian bent. In this book Charles C. W. Cooke engages with the data and the philosophy behind this trend, applauding conservatarianism as a force that can help. Republicans mend the many ills that have plagued their party in recent years and sustain the momentum gained in the 2014 midterms. Conservatarians are vexed by Republicans' failure to cut the size and scope of Washington, D.C. but they are critical of some libertarians for their unacceptable positions on abortion, national defense, and immigration. They praise conservatives' efforts to protect Second Amendment rights—efforts that have recently been wildly successful—but they see the War on Drugs as unmitigated disaster that goes against everything conservatives ought to value. All movements run the risk of stagnation and of losing touch with the principles and values that made them successful in the first place. In The Conservatarian Manifesto, Charles Cooke shows the way back to a better and more honest conservatism that champions limited government, reality-based policy, and favor for the smallest minority of all, the individual.

AUTHOR: Charles C.W. Cooke is a writer at National Review and a graduate of the University of Oxford, at which he studied modern history and politics. His work has focused especially on Anglo-american history, British liberty, free speech, the Second Amendment and American exceptionalism. Cooke is the cohost of the Mad Dogs & Englishmen podcast and has broadcast for HBO (Real Time with Bill Maher), BBC, MSNBC, Fox News, The Blaze, CNBC, CTV, ABC, Sun News and CBS. In addition to National Review his writing has also been published by the New York Times, National Interest the Washington Times, and the New York Post.

MY REVIEW: The Conservatarian Manifesto needs to be read by all those interested in the current political era. Charles C. W. Cooke is a brilliant writer and he makes a strong case for the right to hold unpopular views and make unpopular choices. These views and choices may be wrong but he writes about the right of the individual to be wrong. In this splendid book, Charles C. W. Cooke makes it clear that conservatarianism is now a part of what is happening politically and that it needs to be examined and reasoned about. He does that brilliantly!

I recommend The Conservatarian Manifesto to all but especially to those with a right-leaning worldview. This is one of the most interesting and educational books I have read in a long time.
Cook is an excellent writer and a brilliant scholar. He makes his points as clearly as possible but still because of the topic, I found myself reading and re-reading. However, I don't see that as a bad thing. I think it helped me center in and to better understand what he was saying. If you are a person that is interested in what is going on in politics today and if you are willing to accept truth wherever you find it, you will love this book.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Thursday, April 30, 2015

The gym is a good place for exercise. It is also a good place to make friends. Murray and Charlotte Schreiber are two of the friends my wife and I have at our gym. Charlotte is a lovely lady full of vim and vigor who loves life and makes friends easily. She is eighty-nine. Murray is a retired doctor with a brilliant mind and a beautiful voice. He is ninety-two. These two lovely people are Jewish and they love God and others. While visiting in their home yesterday Dr. Schreiber read me a devotional that he had just written.


One who is made in the image of God and dearly loved.

One who is endowed with many gifts and talents.

One who deserves celebration for having achieved a good, valid self image.

To add to your well being always remember to recite daily prayers of gratitude for all the wondrous good elements in your life.


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

3 Days to Bust Any Excuse
3 Weeks to Easy New Eating Habits
3 Months to Total Transformation
Your real-life plan for your best body ever
By Maria Kang

OVERVIEW: When it comes to controlling your weight, a balanced diet is key. Unlike many restrictive programs that cut out an entire food group or demand huge sacrifices, Maria offers a realistic and long-term eating plan of 30 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, 30 percent fats, and 10 percent that can be customized depending on your goals. Maria has designed a completely customizable workout guide to incorporate exercise into even the busiest life. The No More Excuses Diet is not about making you feel guilty for how you look, or ashamed of the choices you've made; it is about getting you to a place where you feel in control of your life, love your body, and prioritize your health. Packed with lots of encouragement and a clear plan of action, The No More Excuses Diet will empower you to bust through the excuses that hold you back and start living a life you love.

AUTHOR: Maria King is a health advocate who believes that health begins with choice. She is the founder of Fitness Without Borders, as well as the No Excuse Mom movement, an organization of thousands of women around the country making a commitment to their health one day at a time. Maria lives in California with her husband and their three children.

MY REVIEW: This is not a book just for women or moms. This is a book for all of us. I am a male diabetic needing to lose weight, and get my blood sugar under control. I am now doing that. This book has helped. When I started reading the book I was already exercising, eating better, losing weight and getting my blood sugar under control, but I improved even more after following Maria's advice. I wish I had known about her book sooner.

This is a book with a real-life plan for a better body. Even if you do not need to lose weight but you do want to be healthier, then this is a book you need to read. Maria gives you exercises that you can do at home, and shows you how to develop new eating habits that will help change your life. IF you are one of the MANY that need to make some changes for your health's sake---then you will want to get this book.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Loving, Leaving, And Finding The Church
By Rachel Held Evans

OVERVIEW: For a generation that has largely said, "count me out," church represents a complicated relationship of both longing and apathy. There's a history there—a past full of confusion and hurt, but a past that often is impossible to abandon. In Searching for Sunday, Rachel Held Evans exposes her own thorny relationship with the church, articulating the concerns, frustrations, and hopes of many of her peers. Through a series of stories told around the church's sacraments—baptism, confession, and communion, among others—Evans offers the beginnings of a road map back to church and the resurrection that awaits when we are willing to give up and begin again.
(From the back of the book.)

AUTHOR: Rachel Held Evans is an award-winning writer whose articles have appeared in local and national publications. She lives in Dayton, Tennessee, with her husband, Dan. Follow her on her blog at rachelheldevans.com, on twitter at @RachelheldEvans, and on Facebook at Facebook.com/RachelHeldEvans.page.

MY REVIEW: In my opinion, this is a must read for every preacher—young and old, every Bible professor and church leader. I say this because I feel that Rachel Held Evans is describing what is going on in the minds of many who are concerned with the things about God, religion and every day living. All church leaders need to be informed. However, I'm not sure this is a book for everybody.
Many, mainly the ultra-conservative, may not be able to "handle" what Rachel is feeling and saying.
Oh, we all need to hear her message but if we can't meditate on it and reason through it without getting upset and "sick" then it's best we leave it to others to interpret it for us.

I have a graduate degree in Bible and was a minister for forty-seven years. I am conservative in my thinking. I had a difficult time in reading this book and determining how to review it. I understand what Rachel is saying and I am in agreement with much of it. But her experiences—what she is feeling and going through is so much different from anything I have personally experienced with the church that I can't identify with it. Again, I understand her deep emotion are real. Real for her but not for me. For example, Rachel saw a sign that read: "Vote Yes On One" and "Marriage=1 Man + 1 Woman" and it so upset her that she left the church and now years later is still bothered by it. I have strong feeling about the message from that sign but my feelings are entirely different than hers. And that's OK. At least, it's OK with me. What you will find in this book are the sincere, deep, emotional, thoughts of a great writer.

(I received this book free from the publisher for my honest review.)


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Secret Principle to Achieving Success in Life,
Love, and Happiness
By Alexander Loyd, Ph.D., N.D.

OVERVIEW: Rooted in science, ancient wisdom, and proven therapeutic techniques to remove personal obstacles that sabotage us, Beyond Willpower offers a revolutionary forty-day holistic program based on more than twenty-five years of clinical experience. With this program you will identify and clarify what fundamentally defines success for you. Then you'll receive the three simple tools you need to internally shift from fear to love physically (using the Energy Medicine tool), mentally (using the Reprogramming Statements tool), and spiritually (using the Heart Screen tool). No matter how you define success – as a wealth, career satisfaction, healing of health issues, or resolution of relationship problems—Beyond Willpower will help you achieve it once and for all, quickly and for the long term. (From inside the front dust cover).

AUTHOR: Alexander Loyd holds doctorates in psychology and naturopathic medicine and has been a psychological counselor for more than twenty-five years. his private practice has become one of the largest of its kind in the world, with clients in all fifty states and more than 150 countries. He is the author of the international bestseller The Healing Code.

MY REVIEW: I want to begin my review with what William A. Tiller, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Stanford University said about Beyond Willpower: "Valuable information for everyone to access. This book is in perfect harmony with ageless wisdom: In all ways, to thine own self be true. Seek your answers to life's questions from within, rather than from the world without." I also want to agree with the words of Janet Atwoood, New York Times bestselling author of The Passion Test. She said, "This is a paradigm shift breakthrough, turns most conventional wisdom about how to achieve success on its head, and explains why so many things that have sounded good have failed to produce results over the last fifty years."

That being said, I need to clarify something about my own views of this book. Although, I agree with almost everything Dr. Loyd has to say, I have a much stronger view of the part God plays in healing and bringing peace to our lives than Dr. Loyd does—or at least more than he states in the book. He speaks of God, love and grace, which is good. I see God, love and grace powerfully packed into a bold, capital letter GOD. Maybe he does too. I'm not sure. I just want my Christian friends to realize that although I accept truth wherever I find it that as a retired minister I am not leaving my message from the Bible about God, love and grace and finding it now in psychology. The Bible is good. Psychology is good. The Bible is where I go first.

I recommend this book as a tool to help those who are burdened with stress and fear and don't know which way to turn.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Monday, March 16, 2015

It is not always a bad thing when a church is plateaued or declining. This is happening to the typical church today.

The typical church will have a ten percent attrition rate annually, regardless of its health. People move out of the area for various reasons and some die. So simply maintaining where you are is a sign of growth.

Another reason for a flat growth may be a decision that was made that didn't please everybody and the disgruntled moved away. But this isn't always bad. Sometimes the best thing that can happen is that certain people will find a church suited to their beliefs.

Then there are some churches that are limited in their growth potential because of where they are located. This doesn't mean that a church is not needed there.

Another reason may be the church is just in a season of natural ebb and flow. Over the years I have watched this happen many times. The pattern is to have a season of growth followed by a season of consolidation. It happens.

Every church doesn't have to be a mega church to be a true church of Christ.  Looking back I'm thankful that my children grew up in churches where they could love and be loved by both the young and those not so young. These were churches where everybody knew your name.

I believe there is a place for the mega church that is reaching out to those who were raised totally outside of organized religion. But we don't need to "kill off" a church that isn't really dying just to replace it with something we think will appeal more to the secular minded.

You want to be a part of a booming, growing, mega-church? Good. Go with God. Go join one!
Go "plant" one that you will lead and be loyal to.

But don't destroy a church of Christ because YOU deem it dead. Let the church be faithful to those things that led to its growth to begin with. Don't worry. Take heart. If you are in a church that has plateaued or declining it's not necessarily a bad thing.


Thursday, March 05, 2015

And 51 Other Leadership Principles 
To Revolutionize Your Workplace
By Tim Stevens

OVERVIEW: Fairness Is Overrated is organized around four categories of leadership thought that are crucial for every leader to learn: Part One: Be A Leader Worth Following. Part Two: Find The Right People. Part Three: Build a Healthy Culture. Part Four: Lead Confidently Through A Crisis. This book is an essential read for any leader at any level, whether you are leading a few or a few thousand.

AUTHOR: Tim Stevens is a team leader with the Vanderbloemen Search Group, an executive search firm that helps churches and ministries find great leaders. Previously he was the executive pastor at Granger Community Church in Indiana. During his twenty years there, he helped grow the church to more than 5,000 gathering weekly in three locations and saw a worldwide impact, which included a community center in downtown South Bend, Indiana, and more than 1,800 new churches in southern India.

MY REVIEW: I agree with Thom Rainer, author of I Am a Church Member and Autopsy of a Deceased Church, who said, "Business leaders, church leaders, all leaders: get this book and devour it immediately!"

Stevens distills his lifetime of service and learning into practical, unconventional wisdom that is needed by any leader. This is a book of short, powerful chapters that offer deep wisdom. It's about what matters in the heart of a leader. The principles in this book are written in an easy to understand way. I have read many books on leadership but never one this practical and useful.

I picked up the book thinking I would just read one or two of the short chapters. I found myself looking at the title of chapter after chapter and unable to put it down. Just when I thought I had read the best chapter of the fifty-two, I would read another one and think, maybe this is the best one. They all are needed and helpful. Maybe chapter fifty-two was most helpful to me. In that chapter Stevens lists what he calls the five stages of failure: Justified Reasoning. Questioning. Blaming. Redefining and Leading. I recommend you get your own copy of the book and decide for yourself. I'm sure you will find it as hard as I did to pick only one.

(I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A Young Manager's Old-School Views 
On Success In Sports And Life
By Mike Matheny with Jerry B. Jenkins

OVERVIEW: The Matheny Manifesto is based on a frankly worded letter Mike Matheny wrote to the parents of a Little League team he coached. The letter was a cry for change that became an Internet sensation and eventually a "manifesto." In the book he builds on the letter by first diagnosing the problem at the heart of youth sports— hint: it starts with parents and coaches—and then by offering a hopeful path forward. Along the way, he uses stories from his small-town childhood as well as his career as a player, coach, and manger to explore eight keys to success: leadership, confidence, teamwork, faith, class, character, toughness, and humility.

AUTHORS: Mike Matheny played thirteen years as a catcher for four Major League teams, won four Gold Gloves, and holds the MLB record for most consecutive games witihout an error; 2015 will mark his fourth year as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. Matheny led the Cardinals to the postseason in each of his first three campaigns, winning the National League pennant in 2015. He and his wife, Kristin, are the parents of five and live in St. Louis.  Jerry B. Jenkins is the author of twenty New York Times bestsellers, including the Left Behind series. His writing has appeared in time, Reader's Digest, Parade, Guideposts, and dozens of Christian periodicals. He has collaborated on as-told-to autobiographies by Hank Aaron, Orel Hershiser, Walter Payton, Nolan Ryan, Mike Singletary, and Billy Graham.

MY REVIEW: This is a "must-read" book. It presents what is called an "old school" view and if that is what it is, I am old school all the way. The principals Matheny talks about in this book and lives out in his life, are sadly missing from today's society. They are desperately needed!

This book will benefit coaches, parents, young players—anybody seeking success. It is packed with winning insights and practical advice. Mike Matheny lists eight keys to success. They all are important. As a preacher, the one I liked best was FAITH. And I liked it that in his acknowledgments he wrote: "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! ( 2 Corinthians 9:15).

We are just getting into the new year (2015) but this is the best book I have read so far this year and I have already read several. It is easy to read, fun to read. And powerful!

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Friday, February 20, 2015

The 8 Strengths You Need
To Succeed In Business And In life
By Robert Luckadoo

OVERVIEW: This book will leave you with a tear in your eye, a big southern smile in your heart, and a recharged desire to be your best and find your true purpose in life. You will be enlightened and entertained as author Robert Luckadoo's life stories tug at your heartstrings and inspire you to dig deep inside yourself to find the eight strengths you need to succeed in your personal and professional life.

AUTHOR: Robert Luckadoo has a knack for success. Whether it's in the world of NASCAR racing, collegiate fast-pitch softball or financial services, he's always found a way to win. It's no wonder that audiences find him to be such an inspiring speaker. A geophysics major with a master's in business management, Robert started his first company—a geological consulting firm—in 1989, and since then he's become something of a startup expert, starting six more businesses and growing them to maturity before selling them for profit as going concerns. Currently, he's a financial professional with Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company.

MY REVIEW: I agree with Dick Vitale, ESPN Sports Analyst who said, "Grit in Your Craw will help develop the strengths you'll need to attack the many problems you'll encounter on the road to success." This is a good book. A very good book! I recommend it to you whether you're an athlete, in financial services, a real estate or insurance salesperson or another performance-based position. This book will inspire you to do your best in everything you do.

Robert Luckadoo wanders off into theology on page three of the book and I think that is a mistake. He says that winning the lottery and a child that dies with cancer is a part of God's plan. I don't think so! I do believe that it is God's circumstantial will and that all things work together for good to those that love the Lord, but I do not believe the Scriptures teach that God plans for you to win the lottery or for a child to die with cancer. However, this does not take away the great value of the book. It just happens to be a point of disagreement that I, as a Christian minister, have with one thing that Robert believes. He certainly may be right in his view and I may be wrong.

This is a book I wish I had read when I was a teenager. These eight strengths will benefit anybody who will carefully consider them and apply them to their life. You may want to consider buying a few copies to give as gifts to your friends.

(I received this book from The Cadence Group in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Quick, Flavorful Paleo
Meals for Eating Well
By Pete Evans

OVERVIEW: "Ever wonder what kind of Paleo dishes an internationally acclaimed chef might prepare? Wonder no more. The Paleo Chef brilliantly combines Pete's passion for real food with his sophisticated, flavor-first approach to cooking. Best of all, the ravishing meals in these pages were designed for home cooks, making them a cinch to prepare in your own kitchen. This book is brimming with delicious inspiration, and deserves a permanent place on your counter."  —Michelle Tam, author of the New York Times bestseller Nom Nom Paleo  (From the back of the book).

AUTHOR: Pete Evans is an award-winning international chef, restaurateur, author, television presenter, adventure seeker, and father. Pete recently made his U.S. debut as host of The Moveable Feast on PBS. He has authored seven internationally successful cookbooks and has contributed to such publications as Fine Cooking magazine. As a graduate of New York's Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a health coach, and an enthusiastic supporter of the Paleo movement, Pete's mission is to revolutionize the way we eat and live.

MY REVIEW: The Paleo lifestyle is not something that someone came up with recently. It takes ideas about what made our ancestors healthy and strong survivors and adapts them to twenty-first-century life. This is a good book. It is beautifully done and it is unique. The recipes offer full flavor and are brought to life with stunning, full-color photography.

The book cover appeals to me, a "down to earth" type because Pete Evans is pictured on the cover barefooted. And then the first picture in the book is of a beautiful pork chop. But after that, I must admit that the recipes do not appeal to me until the dessert section. I grew up in Oklahoma and I have a Cracker Barrel mentality. The recipes I like best come from my favorite magazine —Southern Living. The recipes in Pete Evan's book may be delicious but I would not be classify them as comfort food.

So, do I recommend this book? Maybe not to my close friends who see food the same way I do. But for  that large group of people that are discovering the health benefits of the Paleo lifestyle and are cutting out processed, sugary foods and instead eating quality proteins and fats, fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds they will love this book.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Friday, January 30, 2015

Yes, it's raining today. I know. But MOST days the sun IS shining.

So, welcome to the Valley of the Sun. We are glad you have come for the Super Bowl or whatever.

The Valley of the Sun is one great big happy metro area.

But I would like to tell you about about some of the cities that make up this big area.

Golf, hotels, spas, upscale shopping---all come to mind when Scottsdale is mentioned. The downtown area can be divided into several distinct districts. The Main Street Arts and Antiques District features a range of dining options, antique stores and art galleries. On 5th Avenue from Scottsdale Road to Goldwater Boulevard there are more than 35 dining establishments and over 80 specialty shops. This is a great place for dining and shopping. Twenty-five years ago when we moved to Scottsdale just a short distance from our new home there was nothing to the East but desert. Now it is a bustling, booming area with large hotels and spas and fantastic shopping. The Kierland shopping area is great plus there is a newer area just across the street---Scottsdale Quarter.

Glendale is one of the fastest-growing cities in Arizona. It is known mostly for the Cardinals Stadium and the Glendale Arena. But the old downtown area, divided into two sections spanning 10 blocks, gives Glendale small town charm. This weekend there is a big Chocolate Affair going on. It's too bad it's raining. That will put a little damper on it. But this is a charming little place with a lot going on.

Tempe is home to Arizona State University, the largest university in the United States. The downtown area consists mainly of ASU and the Mill Avenue District with many shops and restaurants, taverns and nightclubs. Even if you are well past your "night on the town flings" there are plenty of "grown-up" activities. Tempe has a lively cultural scene and a young attitude.

Downtown Phoenix has really changed in the last few years. It is vastly different than it was 25 years ago when we came to the area. There is probably more than 100 restaurants, 20 or more art galleries, Herberger and Orpheum theaters, Phoenix Symphony Hall, Arizona Science Center, plus Chase Field, America West Arena and the Dodge Theater. There is just too much going on to describe it all. You must go and see for yourself.

Again, we are glad you have come to visit and we hope you come back often. Just please don't come to stay. We are filling up fast!


They're gone now. Some here. Some there. Some left the church all together.

Theirs was one of the first churches in the city----pioneers.

They planted or helped start most of the other Independent Christian churches in the city.

They faithfully preached the gospel, sent foreign missionaries and did good in every way they could.

They married the young, buried the dead and encouraged one another, especially in worship.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward 
love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as
some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another---
and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25

They believed in following this Scripture closely and they faithfully came together on the Lord's day, primarily to WORSHIP. They believed in evangelistic outreach in any and every way as long as it was not against the Scriptures. 

But they believed the assembly was for worship as was the place where they assembled. Worship is a religious matter and so the place where they worshiped was conducive to worship. 

This body of Christians was a Christ centered,traditional, family of worshipers.

Change moved in. Not slowly, thoughtfully and with kindness and grace. But quickly and abruptly.

When the secular moved in and the traditional moved out hearts were broken, families were disrupted.

Yes, absolutely the church needs to reach out to the "nones" with the message of Christ.

But we do not need to destroy a great, old, traditional church of God in order to do it.

Wonderful churches like the one I have been describing are needed now more than ever.

These dear Christian brothers and sisters need to be allowed to meet on the Lord's Day to encourage one another until they go to meet Him or He comes to take them Home.

God bless the church of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!